As we welcome the signs spring here in Carmel, Dr. Kristoff and our team would like to remind our patients that April also marks something else: Oral Cancer Awareness Month. Occurrences of the disease are increasing across the United States and around the world, and the need for regular screenings has never been more apparent. Have you visited your dentist in Carmel for an oral cancer examination lately? It’s a fast screening that can be performed at the end of your checkup and cleaning — and it could, quite literally, save your life.
Oral Cancer: An Overview
Oral cancer is that which affects the lips, tongue, gums, cheeks, neck, or hard or soft palates. It has historically been closely linked to tobacco use or a family history of cancer, but with the increase of the human papillomavirus (HPV), oral cancer is occurring in younger, healthier patients than ever before. Patients with one or more risk factors of oral cancer should be especially vigilant in maintaining regular screenings.
The risk factors for oral cancer include:
- Age: Being older than 55
- Gender: Males are slightly more likely to have oral cancer
- Tobacco use
- Family history of cancer
- Prolonged sun exposure
- And others
What Happens During an Oral Cancer Screening?
An oral cancer screening is a visual and tactile examination that your dentist can perform at the end of a checkup and cleaning. Adults should have at least one screening per year. To begin the exam, you and your doctor will talk about your oral health. As he visually examines your oral structures, Dr. Kristoff will ask you a series of questions to find out if you have noticed anything unusual with your oral health lately. Then, he will perform the tactile portion of the exam, in which he feels your cheeks, lips, and neck for any unusual lumps.
Some of the warning signs of oral cancer include…
- A sore spot that does not heal after two weeks
- Rough or discolored patches in the mouth
- Lumps or bumps in the soft tissues
- Persistent pain in the mouth
Improving Outcomes for Oral Cancer
It’s currently estimated that one person dies from oral cancer each hour in the United States. It’s a shocking statistic — and it makes clear the need for regular screenings from your Carmel dentist. Early detection of oral cancer aid in early treatment, which can greatly improve the outcomes following diagnosis. When caught early, the survival rate for oral cancer is 90%. Detected in its later stages, however, the survival rate for oral cancer falls to 60% after five years of treatment.
The conclusion? Getting an oral cancer screening is absolutely crucial for adults.
Schedule Your Screening During April!
This April, we encourage you to visit the family dentist in Carmel for an oral cancer screening. It’s something that could save your life. Dr. Kristoff can perform a screening at the end of your routine checkup and cleaning, so there’s really no excuse not to come in! Request an appointment online today.